Rancho del Rio
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Rancho del Rio

Windows reflect the land surrounding Rancho del Rio, the 187-acre ranch in southeast Orange County that was once the hideout of a notorious drug smuggler who made billions in the 1980s. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times)
Real estate agent Stephen Sutherland leads a tour of the property, which includes this modest, 1930s-era Spanish hacienda, a small vineyard, a well-stocked lake and at least a dozen scattered buildings including stables, caretaker’s quarters, pump houses and barns. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times)
Rancho del Rio is the largest residential property on the market in Orange County, and it’s listed at $22.5 million. The Seligman family paid $3.65 million for the property three years ago, but “they don’t have enough time to come out here and really enjoy it,” their caretaker said. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times)
In the 1980s, the ranch served as headquarters for Daniel James Fowlie’s marijuana and cocaine smuggling operation, one of the largest drug trafficking outfits in the country. In 1985, sheriff’s deputies raided the ranch and Fowlie fled to Mexico. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times)
The lake house sits below one of three helipads at Rancho del Rio. In 1989, then President George H. W. Bush landed at the ranch to deliver a major national address extolling the virtues of the nation’s war on drugs. He toured the grounds and was taken through the underground compartments where tons of drugs had been stored. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times)
Sutherland, right, and the property’s caretaker Jason Hahn walk by the man-made lake. Federal authorities seized the ranch in 1985, and eventually turned it over to Orange County. The property was sold for $2.38 million to the Girl Scout Council of Orange County, which used the site as a Scout camp until 2000. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times)
The ranch has a 14-stable barn and is less than eight miles from downtown San Juan Capistrano. “You could fly in on your helicopter, ride your horse down to the lake house and and do a little fishing, all before dinner,” Sutherland said. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times)